Objective: Even though the prevalence of benefit finding (BF) has been empirically shown to exist among breast cancer (BC) survivals, how does benefit finding evolve over time remains inadequately investigated. This objective of this study is to examine how BF evolves over time among Chinese breast cancer survivals and determine the demographic, medical and psychosocial factors that can sustain BF increase over time, thus bring about higher level of long-term post-traumatic growth among breast cancer survivals.
Methods: Participants were 486 women with different stages of breast cancer (stages I, II and III) followed from completion of primary treatment. Analysis were performed on the data collected at the 3-year assessment during 2014-2019. Participants completed self-report questionnaires of characteristics and benefit finding at six time points with the interval of six months since BC diagnosis. The relationships between demographic, medical and psychosocial characteristics and benefit finding evolution over time were examined using mixed models.
Results: Participants reported mixed results on the evolving patterns of benefit finding: 28% reported an upward trend in BF scoring over time, 49% instead reported an downward trend, and the remaining 23% reported no obvious change. Our study has shown that some well-known covariates of benefit finding, e.g. education, income, and social support, are not associated with BF trends. In comparison, levels of spirituality and disease coping at diagnosis can more reliably predict BF evolution over time. Our results strongly indicate that benefit finding can be sustained and increased by encouraging attempts at meaning-making and active disease coping during breast cancer treatment. To our knowledge, this study is among the first to examine trends of benefit finding evolution over time on breast cancer survivals and determine their psychosocial predictors in developing countries.
Conclusion: Identifying the sustaining factors of benefit finding in the experience of breast cancer is the key to design psycho clinical solutions for patients’ long-term post-traumatic growth. As time goes by, cancer patients may experience less benefit finding. However, active disease coping and meaning-making by patients can effectively counter this undesired trend and boost their higher long-term post-traumatic growth.